A Video iPod I'd Buy

I don't have an iPod. It's true. Frankly, I don't really have much interest in listening to music anywhere other than the comfort of my own home. When I listen to music, I want to sit there and actually listen to the music, not catch a bus or ride the subway or eat lunch or work out. (Yeah, like I work out.) And I hate earbud-style headphones.

There's been a lot of talk about the idea of a Video iPod for some time. As much as I'm disinclined to listening to music on-the-go, I'm even less interested in watching videos on-the-go. Particularly on a little, tiny, 2.5 inch LCD screen. Somehow I just don't think The Exorcist or 2001: A Space Odyssey would have the same impact, however titilating the idea of carrying around movies in your pocket might seem. And Steve Jobs would seem to agree. And so, for the longest time, the Video iPod has been tabled.

Fine by me.

Not too long ago, however, Apple came out with the iPod Photo. Now the iPod Photo is kind of a neat idea, though I doubt it would appeal to many people. The basic idea is that you can carry around photos and show them on your iPod. But what really takes this to the next level -- and by that I mean the potential of a Video iPod -- is the device's ability display photos on a television. Now we're talking. And I'd posit the theory that that's the real motivation behind the iPod Photo: to get people to wrap their brains around the idea of the iPod as a convergent device, one made to work with other media appliances in the home. Rest assured, if we do see an iPod video device -- and I think it's pretty likely at this point -- it will connect to your TV.

That's right, folks. You heard it here first.

Now to be perfectly honest, while this is a nice idea, I'm still not satisfied. Sure, there's a certain appeal to a bringing an iPod to a friend's house, plugging it in to his TV, and choosing from a list of movies to watch, all from a device that fits in the palm of your hand and operates on batteries. In fact, I like this idea a lot. But it's not a deal maker for me. I'm not sure it's something I want to pay hundreds of dollars for. Lots of folks will, but probably not me.

What will it take? Okay. I will tell you.

In addition to the iPod media player, Apple also makes a audio-video capture device. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's called the iSight. The iSight is a fabulous creature. It's essentially intended as a webcam. Unlike most webcams on the market, however, it captures audio and video via firewire rather than USB, and is therefore capable of producing some pretty decent looking, fairly high quality video. I have one and I love it. It's got a very grainy quality, and a nice saturated color palatte. It also produces deinterlaced video, so it has something of a film quality to my eye, though other things about the video it produces are distincly digital. Say what you will, the look is unique, and I think it's quite beautiful. Unfortunately, the iSight is hobbled out of the box. It's really only made to work with iChat, the video conferencing software made by Apple. You can get third party software, like the excellent BTV Pro, to take full advantage of the iSight, but there's nothing from Apple. Which is too bad, because in my humble opinion, the iSight is capable of so much more.

Enter the Video iPod.

For awhile now, I've envisioned a combination of these two ingenious devices. I've longed for an ultraportable video capture solution, and a Video iPod with iSight capture integration would more than fit the bill, provided, of course, the device allowed for full-frame, high-quality captures (or something close to it). Imagine: you've got your iPod, and you decide you want to capture some nice, decent looking video of you oversized poodle in Central Park. Don't have your video camera? No problem. Just whip out your iSight, plug it into your iPod, click record and go.


So far, Apple has shied away from the iPod as a capture device. Add-ons can be had to record audio to the iPod, but as far as I know, photos could never be captured to the iPod, and nothing in the realm of media aquisition directly to the iPod has ever been produced by Apple. So I really wonder if this is something Apple's even thinking about seriously. I worry that it isn't. But I will say, right here, right now, that if Apple (or anyone, for that matter) were to produce such a device, I would buy one in an instant. In a heartbeat. In a New York minute.

Hell, I might buy a couple.